United States, Russia, China discussed on Target USA Podcast by WTOP


From podcast one coming up in this episode of target USA previously on target in USA and so one night around midnight midnight shitting this tent and Had these cyber professionals from eight different countries in there and I asked him I said hey go in this room has never had the Chinese in your networks on inviting everybody. Just kinda looked around as I thought. Okay who in this room is never had the Russians uninvited in your networks works. No hands at the risk of sounding overly dramatic. They're everywhere and one place. The governments of Russia China Iran and Non Nation State hacktivists. I want to be is inside voter. Registration databases in the US. We could see adversaries interested in that information for what we would consider. Traditional Intelligence and espionage purposes Shelby Pearson is the intelligence communities top election security security official and she points out. The twenty twenty election may not be the big prize for these actors. So it's not just about the actual vote casting. It's acquiring valuable demographic data so how are they going after this data and the all important question. What are they going to do with it if they get it? That's coming up on this edition of target. USA National Security podcast from WTO in Washington in DC this is target USA. Russia could render a huge arm to this country North Korea's secret missile capable originally the whole of the United States dangerous terrorist. DC is repeatedly mentioned as someplace they would like to seek an attack. Cyber Criminals Successful in America has a target on its back and on this program. We investigate the threats the people behind them the agencies fighting them and the impact on you this is target. USA The national security podcast. I'm JJ Green. Thanks for joining us. It's no secret. Russia China Iran and Non Nation State hacktivists are actively attempting to interfere in the US twenty twenty presidential election. But what's not well known is that may not be their ultimate goal exfiltration exfiltration of voter profiles data from registration databases is according to the intelligence communities top election security official a very very likely objective. We talk about this and many more significant problems concerns and issues and the outlook with Shelby Pearson. And she's the election threats executive in the office of the Director of National Intelligence. Thank you so much for being here. The first thing I'd like to ask ask is if you could explain what it is that your title in your position are designed to do sure I think certainly as many of your listeners know the office so the director of National Intelligence was created several years ago to further integrate the intelligence across the community and in fact My position is as an extension of that same goal albeit focused around the challenges of election security which includes both cyber threats to election related infrastructure as well as a threats related to malign influence and influence operations here in the states so my position is really designed to galvanize the expertise resources and capabilities of the intelligence community to focus on this topic. And how do you do that. But what are the practical steps that you take. I really appreciate that question because it's it's actually more about leadership style. And how do you motivate people to focus on on work work and goals that are potentially beyond that of their own organization for me One I've had the luxury of a peer group of executives across across most of the agencies that I think I've worked with for a period of time certainly from two thousand sixteen to two thousand eighteen so I think there's a bit of speed core but I also think We we focus on articulating very clear goals for example. How do we make sure that the intelligence community communicates with one voice and we then then work towards practices and behaviors? That accomplish those goals. So I think it's it's really a matter of Being transparent so I think all of the agencies know exactly what our goals are and what we're trying to accomplish and really Motivating all the agencies to understand. What their role? Liz relative to those goals and can you give me a basic idea of how many people are on your team and how they're broken up up just briefly. I don't want you to get too far into the weeds. That could take a long time to do right. I'm assuming generally speaking within the deny on my team specifically I think I have Ten which would include me and then I also have partners in the National Intelligence Manager for cyber the national Counterintelligence Security Center. I know you've talked to my colleague. Bill Vena before And colleagues that work in other areas of the cyber enterprises while within oh DNA. So I would say on any given day inside of the O- deny I'm looking at a cohort of colleagues that are maybe fifteen to twenty people. that that help us accomplish Odeon is mission in the space and then I have colleagues across the community as I mentioned led by my Peer Group and at any given time We probably have I think a cohort of a few hundred folks and then of course those that work in the broader disciplines of counterintelligence cyber and regional expertise and operations all across the community. That help us with this. Let's get into some more specific and harder core questions You mentioned the twenty twenty election clearly is a part of why you and your team. Your team exists What and A and we're worried and have been for wild about some pretty pernicious in serious insidious threats? So what are those threats. I think uh-huh as we have tried to Continue to communicate. These threats across the board We are certainly looking at the traditional actors. Thor's of Russia China and Iran Also non-state actors hacktivists and frankly even domestic actors which of course the FBI by on ds would lead on Going into twenty twenty and so as I mentioned earlier I think those threats can focus on both of potential. The threats to the infrastructure related to casting votes or voter rolls or voter registration databases as well as Malign influence or or influence operations who sponsorship is not known to the target or the recipient getting a little deeper into the threats election roles databases etc.. How are they presenting as threats? How are they going about trying to meddle interfere or impact those those those elements? I think it's really important to be clear to your listeners. That at this juncture we do not have any intelligence information to suggest that adversaries have have sought to compromise voting tallies or change voting numbers. I think that's a really important point. Two Foot stomp however as The the cyber world is very broad and deep we certainly see adversaries Looking at a broad swath of infrastructure which would include a that which is related to election infrastructure. I think one Area that we have focused on voter registration databases And some of that is frankly a JJ as you know publicly available and or or available for sale. So I think we're working very closely with us in the states to understand and what's already readily available Openly and then is are there aspects of information that we see that would suggest that they acquired that information clandestinely for me. One thing that I wanNA point out To your listeners is that those cyber Interest areas particularly voter registration. Asian databases may not be specifically to antagonize the outcome of the twenty twenty election. We could see adversaries. Interested in that information for are what we would consider traditional intelligence and espionage purposes but also I think to enable more focused and more effective targeting of influence campaigns. So it's not just about the actual vote casting. It's acquiring valuable demographic data about the American American political landscape that then can enable the influence operations that I talked about previously been. How do you see them leveraging that information if and once they get it I think that as I mentioned I think it enables a level of accuracy and specificity and efficiency in how they they look at specific populations in the United States to influence through a bride a broad swath? Excuse me of measures which could include everything from social media to traditional influence. have you seen any Evidence on social media of them. Some sort of exercising activities operations. I suppose with information like this. Certainly I think we have. I've communicated very broadly how the Russians continue to continue to sponsor presence on Very popular social media media platforms to promote Narratives that they're interested in continued to sow discord in the United States. I also think it's important to point out that We as the United States try to learn from a very broad swath of activity that might occur for example in Taiwan or might occur her in Ukraine or the Balkans and so looking at the.

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